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El Lector

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This heart-warming story is about Bella, a 13-year-old girl in Tampa, Florida, in the 1930s. Her grandfather is a lector at a cigar factory, which means he reads fiction, newspapers, and union news to the workers as they roll cigars. Being a lector is an important role in their Cuban American immigrant community. But the hard times of the Depression mean that Bella must go ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 2014 by Pineapple Press (first published 2006)
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3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  65 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Anne McLeod
I liked El Lector better than the 3 star rating might suggest, mainly because it takes on labor issues and that is apparently a tough topic to write about for children without sounding too strident. Or too ambivalent. This book veered a bit toward the didactic before reining in.

The character of Tia Lola was wonderful. There is such a tendency to characterize female workers during the Depression as downtrodden drudges in sunbonnets, but in fact, many of the younger ones were thoroughly modern wi
In 1931 Ybor City, FL, 13-year-old Bella wants to be a respected lector like her grandfather. He is a lector at the cigar factory, reading aloud to the workers from the newspapers, literary classics and union news. Bella knows she must be educated to be a lector and she hopes to attend high school with her best friend Mary. But with her father dead and her mother supporting the family with laundry jobs, Bella ends up working in the cigar factory stripping room. Change is afoot; the union and the ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does an excellent job of leading the reader into a time and place that has not been addressed in children's lit. The cigar factories in southern Florida were an entree into the US for many new immigrants, but the working conditions were hard for many. The idea of having a "lector" or a person who keeps the factory workers entertained and enlightened while they are working is a wonderful image. This story is set when radios are being introduced and the labor movement is becoming more a ...more
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to read about the lectores and what life was like for cigar rollers in Florida back in the day; but the story was boring. I don't know why I torture myself and keep reading a book to the end even if I find it boring, but I just have to, hoping a book gets better. The story just lacked the intrigue to make me want to keep turning the pages. Finally, the last three chapters were interesting enough to help me finish the book. We all dream of writing a book that will make it big a ...more
El Lector brings to life Ybor City, Florida, 1931. The author's research is evident, as he paints a picture of a family struggling to manage after a number of hardships. Bella, who finishes eighth grade during the novel, is smart and caring. Her grandfather is a man of honor, and el lector that Bella hopes to someday be.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El Lector means the reader in english. Bella and everyone else in Ybor city Florida love to hear her grandfather read books. He stands at a lecturn in a cigar factory to read to the workers. This book really captures life in 1931 florida. I can't do this book justice with my review, just read it, you'll love it too.
Ken Yliniemi
Another good book from Will Durbin. Set in Tampa Bay FL in the early 1930s in the cigar rolling factories and the labor movement taking place. A YA novel with a great historical setting. Not sure about some of the Spanish in the book, as my Spanish speaking friends had no idea what some of the Spanish words were. Perhaps they were from old Spain? I have no idea, neither did they.
Terri Pray
Feb 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Not something I'd have picked up and read unless it had been 'forced' on me by the library as a challenge book for Hot Reads for Cold Nights.

But, well written and it deals with a part of twentieth century history I had very limited exposure to.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-and-kids
middle grades
third person POV
AR test
Set in Ybor City (outside Tampa) in 1931, tells the story of 13-yr-old Bella's Cuban family who work in the cigar factories, and Bella's dream of continuing her schooling and becoming a lector like her grandfather.
I read this with my students for a field trip we're going on. It's set in historic Tampa (Ybor City). Very interesting young adult novel.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students interested in learning about Ybor and Tampa history
It was interesting to learn more about what life was like in Ybor City back in the heyday of the cigar factories, but the book lacked real suspense and intrigue.
Kelly Erdmann
rated it it was ok
Dec 17, 2018
Danna Acosta
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
It was a pretty good book if you’re not into much suspense and action. Personally I felt there were places were the writer could have added a bit more action. Thought the last two-thirds of the book there was a little more of a want to keep reading. Still recommend reading if you’re into historical fiction.
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William Durbin is an author and teacher who lives at the edge of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness. The winner of both the Great Lakes Book Award and the Minnesota Book award, Mr. Durbin has published numerous books for young readers. Mr. Durbin has also published poetry and essays, and has supervised writing research projects for the NCTE, Middlebury College, and the Bingham Trust for Charit ...more
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